Saturday, 26 November 2016

AUDIO: Trump has won. Now what?

References (in order of mention)
'Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Is This Year's Sexiest Man Alive!' from People Magazine
'Bernie Sanders: Donald Trump harnessed anti-establishment anger' from The Guardian
'Hillary Clinton Made the Same Darn Mistake as Al Gore' from History News Network
'Felony disenfranchisement: The untold story of the 2016 election' from Salon
'@transition2017 update and policy plans for the first 100 days' from Donald J Trump's Twitter
'Barron Trump looks dazed and nauseous through dad Donald’s election victory speech after staying awake for nearly 24 hours' from The Sun
'Election 2016: Exit Polls' from The New York Times
'List of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin' from Wikipedia
'Paris Hilton reveals she voted for Trump' from The Hill
'Kanye West: I didn't vote but if I did, 'I would have voted for Trump'' from CNN
'Beyoncé - Single Ladies' from YouTube
'The real Clinton email scandal is that a bullshit story has dominated the campaign' from Vox
'Clinton's lead in the popular vote surpasses 2 million' from Politico
'Trump Is Self-Sabotaging His Campaign Because He Never Really Wanted The Job In The First Place' from The Huffington Post
'Watch: How Nigel Farage became friends with Donald Trump' from The Telegraph
'Republicans hold the House and Senate, but will that end the Washington gridlock even with President Trump?' from LA Times
'ABFoundation' from Twitter
'Melania Trump takes on cyberbullying: 'Our culture has gotten too mean'' from The Guardian
'Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!' from Donald J Trump's Twitter
'Sessions dogged by old allegations of racism' from CNN
'Michael Flynn, Anti-Islamist Ex-General, Offered Security Post, Trump Aide Says' fron The New York Times
'The crowd chants "lock her up" as Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn criticizes @HillaryClinton in his speech at the #RNCinCLE' from Politico's Twitter
'Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower as the President-Elect's Strategist Plots "An Entirely New Political Movement" (Exclusive)' from The Hollywood Reporter
'Mike Pence—Conversion Therapy True Believer—Adds More Hate to Donald Trump’s GOP Fire' from The Daily Beast
'‘Hamilton’ Had Some Unscripted Lines for Pence. Trump Wasn’t Happy.' from The New York Times
'Hillary Clinton seen hiking day after conceding US election' from The Guardian
'Three ways Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has made history' from Salon

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

City students vote to ban The Sun, Express, and Daily Mail

City University students have voted to ban newspapers including The Sun, Express, and Daily Mail, saying they have “no place” on campus.

The motion, aimed at opposing fascism and social divisiveness in the UK media, argue that the three newspapers in question “demonise refugees and minorities” and “actively scapegoat the working classes.”

The newspapers in question give a platform to far-right figures such as Nigel Farage, Richard Littlejohn, and Katie Hopkins; people who City students argue shout not have a voice in the mainstream media.

The newspapers’ front page headlines have also stirred controversy recently. The Daily Mail dubbed three senior judges “Enemies of the People” after they ruled that Parliament should have a say on Brexit. Earlier this month, the Express compared the court’s Brexit decision to a crisis on the same level as World War Two.

This decision to ban the newspaper comes only weeks after Lego announced that they would no longer be using the Daily Mail for free giveaways. The lobbying group ‘Stop Funding Hate’ is urging John Lewis, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer to do the same.

The City University motion also resolved that University contacts in the media industry should reach out to journalists and shareholders of the three newspapers in question.

Esteemed Sunday Times columnist Camilla Long tweeted that City’s decision to ban the three papers is “100% pathetic.” Many more argue that it will be a breach of freedom of speech if the University attempts to dictate what students can read and cannot read.

According to The Guardian, some journalism students at City are threatening to pull of the union in protest against the decision. City has a renowned journalism department and many graduates go on to find jobs working for the Sun, Mail or Express.

It is unclear how City will attempt to ban the newspapers. The journalism department has already stated that they will not block students’ access to the newspapers. Furthermore, some students find the notion absurd that walking through campus evening holding the Daily Mail might be against the rules soon.

Although student unions around the country have previously boycotted The Sun in protest of topless page three models, a blanket ban of three major newspapers has never been done before. The consensus on this ban appears to be: if students don’t want to read The Sun, Daily Mail, or Express, they simply shouldn’t buy it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Donald Trump: One Week as Preisdent-Elect

It has been just over one week since billionaire Donald Trump defied the pollsters and surprised the media by getting elected as the next President of the United States. Donald Trump has, unsurprisingly, had a very busy week and voters have been given some more clues as to what exactly the Trump presidency will look like.

Anti-Trump protesters have taken to the streets of US cities over the last week to voice their opposition to Trump’s callous rhetoric. Trump responded to these protests on Twitter, initially calling the protesters “unfair”. However, he later tweeted: “Love the fact that … protesters … have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!” The second tweet probably came following a gentle reminder from the White House or a member of his staff that the campaign is over now and he needs to unite the country. I suspect the public will begin to see a reserved and less impulsive Trump more frequently now he is President.

Trump has been appointing Republicans to key positions in his cabinet this week. So far we know that Reince Priebus is going to be Trump’s Chief of staff and Steve Bannon is going to be Chief strategist. Priebus used to be Chairman of the Republican National Committee and is known to be close with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Bannon is an ex-Goldman Sachs financier and has already sparked controversy due to his position as executive chairman of an alt-right news website which opposes immigration and cultural diversity. So far these appointments lack relevant White House experience therefore it will be interesting to see if they even last in their current positions.

Already, the Office of the President-Elect has began the transition from Obama’s administration to Trump’s. Obama met Trump on Thursday and the Wall Street Journal has since reported that during the meeting Trump expressed his surprise at the scope of the duties. They also reported that many Trump aides were "unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term”.

Trump also began making phone calls and meeting with senior international politicians. British Prime Minister Theresa May was the 10th world leader that Trump contacted causing many to speculate on the state of the "special relationship". Though, Trump apparently told May the UK was a "very, very special place for me and for our country." Trump seemed to be more interested in another British politician this week though: Nigel Farage. They were pictured together in a gold-plated elevator having campaigned together last month. Is Farage expecting a new job working closely with President-elect Trump?

Trump did his first television interview since the election result with CBS’s '60 Minutes'. He admitted he had no regrets regarding anything he said on the campaign however it became clear that many of the things he said on the campaign weren’t to be taken literally. Furthermore, following a meeting with Paul Ryan, he stated that issues which were going to be addressed on the first day in office include healthcare and immigration.

This first week has been extremely telling and already we are seeing Trump appear more presidential. I think Trump will quickly discover how difficult the job is and that he is in fact no better than any regular Republican politician. His ambitions for “better healthcare for less money” and to destroy ISIS will prove to be far easier said than done (duh!). Also, his temperament which was very public during the campaign will be made private and his use of social media will decrease. Donald Trump will never be a stereotypical statesman like any other US Presidents in modern history (especially since his anti-establishment rhetoric is part of his appeal) but it will be interesting to see how close to that he is willing to go.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Six weeks in London

I have lived in London for approximately six weeks now and I love it.

Coming from a town with a population of about 100,000 to a city of 7 million didn’t scare me. I was looking forward to being just another face in the crowd. I’m far from popular but whenever I walked through high row in Darlington there was the inevitability that I’d run into someone who I knew so I was looking forward to being amongst complete strangers. 

Also, as far as cities go, I think London is quite town like. There aren’t an overwhelming number of skyscrapers like what you see in New York or Tokyo. And although there are large buildings, they are the size of what you would expect to see in any town centre.

Here are my other main observations from living in London:

Eye eye: the London Eye
The Tube is one of the best things about London. No matter how far I run/walk, Tube stations are never more than 10 minutes away so I can always get home easily. Also, the TFL staff are excellent. They are approachable, friendly, helpful, and have a good sense of humour.

Therefore, Londoners my age don’t drive. In Darlington, most my friends at least start lessons once they turn 17 but all the Londoners my age I’ve spoken to have no desire to learn (at this moment in time anyway). Public transport is so good, they have no need to drive.

The cost of living
Rent charges are a joke. I am fortunate enough to live on a university campus (the only university campus in London) and even the accommodation price here is as bad as everyone makes out. I have a bathroom, kitchen and dining area that I share with another five people, no lounge area, and a decent sized bedroom. But, for the same amount of money anywhere else outside of London I’d have a much larger bedroom, a shared lounge area, and an en suite.

I have deeper concerns about next year when I am kicked out of the university accommodation and need to find private accommodation which I know will not be as good value for money as where I am living now.

Me: out of my depth at
London Fashion Weekend
Stuff to do
Even though my room isn’t as big as the rooms of my friends who live on campuses outside of London, the amount of time I spend in there is minimal. There are hundreds of parks in London, scores of sites to see, dozens of free galleries and museums, as well as daily one off events such as London Fashion Week, the Chocolate Show, and various craft markets. No plans for the weekend? I just need to open an app such as Doji, Hype, or Fever and they suggest tons of things for me to do.

Despite the fact I live in London, I would still very much consider myself a tourist - it’s hard not to be.

Londoners (and southerners in general) are stereotyped as being unsociable sorts who keep to themselves but I’ve found people are just as friendly here as anywhere else in the country.

Last month, I walked six miles to Camden town and was leaning against a wall as I caught my breath when a guy in his late 20s noticed that I’d been stood in the same spot for about 10 minutes. He approached me and cheerily exclaimed “I’m sorry mate, I don’t think she is coming” before ardently walking off again. This is the sort of random banter I thought was exclusive to the north.

Furthermore, when I was in the cinema earlier this week, the stranger sat next to me struck up a conversation about the ridiculous number of trailers that are shown before the film.

So, from my experience, Londoners are lovely.

I am looking forward to the next three years living in London. I hope in that time I can find reasonably priced accommodation and get a part-time job to help cover the costs of the vast amount of dark chocolate and Innocent smoothies I survive off. For today though, I’m just loving the fact that I can wake up on a morning and run along miles of canals without the fear of ever running out of city, being able to record a video of myself doing press-ups without others even battering an eyelid (because London is full of strange people doing odd things every day), and then being able to sit in lectures and be constantly reminded by the rumble of the Central line in the distance that I am in - what many consider to be - the best city in the world.

I, Daniel Blake

I heard about this movie only a week ago. Friends on Twitter were posting links to the trailer with captions along the lines of: “Who is going to take Theresa May to see this then?” My lecturer had also made a couple of references to it in his seminar, highly recommending it.

The premise of the film appears simple: a bloke in Newcastle has suffered a heart attack and is looking to seek the appropriate benefits from the Jobcentre since he can't work— but is denied the allowances he needs.

Before I booked tickets for the film, I typed it into Google and found a clip of the BBC’s Mark Kermode talk about the film with a rare positive passion he reserves only for remarkable pictures. I also discovered the plethora of awards it had received/been nominated for over summer.

The cinema was packed. I sat between a father who had come with his son and a women who obnoxiously ate fruit continuously throughout the entire film. After an age of adverts, the film began.

Every now and again the screen would erupt in laughter however it was too real for me to find amusing. There was a moment where the hypocrisy of the bureaucratic benefits appeal system is so ludicrous, many found the irony entertaining. However the fact that it was a truth being exposed removed all sense of humour for me.

I felt the same about the scene where Daniel Blake is using a computer for the first time and he literally runs the mouse up the monitor. Where others in the cinema found humour, I was struck by how the difficult the system makes it for people born in an older generation but who are in need.

I, Daniel Blake is a masterpiece entrenched in the dejecting truth of the failures in the welfare system. It has a geniality to it though. Daniel Blake is a warm, optimistic, funny character (which may be down to Dave Johns’ background in stand-up comedy).

I’d recommend everyone to watch this film — not for the entertainment value but rather to be enlightened about what some people, out of no fault of their own, need to suffer because of flaws in the state.